This 7 part series has been written for novice opal collector or admirer who has little or no knowledge about opal.
It is hoped that by reading information contained within, you will have a better understanding of where opal comes from, how it is mined, and value and various types of opal available to collector, investor, or those who just want a better understanding of these fascinating stones.
There are over 100 different types of opal being mined around world, with each type being unique to area it came from and no two opals alike. I have attempted to include most common types available to you as a buyer.
In this 7 part series, we will cover subjects ranging from, myths, legends and folklore surrounding opal, were opal is mined around world and discovery of opal in Australia. Our topics will also include how opal is mined, processed and cut as well as different types of opal. Lastly we cover caring for your opals and how an opals is valued.
Pt1 - Myths, Legends and Folklore
Opal has been treasured throughout history from early Aztecs and Romans to Queen Victoria, who loved opals so much that she gave them away as wedding presents. They have adorned crowns of Holy Roman Emperor, and are set in crown jewels of France. Josephine was given an opal with brilliant red flashes called “The Burning of Troy” by Napoleon. Roman historian Pliny described beauty of opals as combination of beauty of all gems.
“Natures Fireworks” and “The Queen of Gems” are some of superlatives that have been used to describe opal. The word itself – “opal” – may have several origins and differing suggestions as to its first use: One is that it comes from a Sanskrit word “upala,” simply meaning “precious stone.” Another is that Romans knew it by different names – “opthalmus,” from Greek word for “eye,” and “paederes,” meaning both “child and “favourite.” Whatever actual name origin; opal has been a favoured, valued stone throughout a long period of history.
The Australian Aboriginals believe that they have lived in Australia since Dreamtime, beginning of all creation. Over time, their culture has produced a rich variety of mythologies in hundreds of different languages. To Aborigines, opals, like other minerals, have a spiritual value because they represent something a Dreaming ancestor left behind as a sign of their presence. The aboriginal Wangkumara tribe recount a legend of how their people gained fire from opal stones, with assistance of a Muda – a creator who switches from human form to pelican: